Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat

Watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday, alleging she violated the federal Hatch Act. 

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CREW’s complaint to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) details how Sanders posted a photo on her official White House Twitter account of herself with Kanye West during the rapper’s Thursday visit to the Oval Office.

West is wearing one of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE’s signature “Make America Great Again” (MAGA)hats in the photo.

The act bars federal employees from using their offices, work resources and social media accounts for political purposes. 

Those found to have violated it can be fined as much as $1,000 and face disciplinary actions like suspension or termination.

The OSC clarified this March that any reference to Trump’s “MAGA” campaign slogan was a clear violation, the watchdog noted. 

This is not the first time that Sanders and other members of the Trump administration have been accused of violating the Hatch Act.

Sanders was one of 10 White House staffers included in a CREW complaint from August after they allegedly used Trump’s MAGA slogan or posted support for Trump’s 2020 presidential candidacy.

“This administration does not seem to care about what the law says when it comes to ethics issues like using official positions for politics,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

“How many investigations and findings of violations are needed until this administration takes action to stop the misuse of government resources for political activity?”

Sanders did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill.

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book If another 9/11 happened in a divided 2021, could national unity be achieved again? Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report MORE’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, was accused by CREW of violating the federal act by using #MAGA on her official Twitter account.

Meanwhile, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race Allies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid MORE was found to have violated the act by retweeting an endorsement from Trump last October. 

Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was also found to have violated the act last year after CREW filed a complaint accusing him of encouraging potential GOP challengers to oust Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance Vietnam shadow hangs over Biden decision on Afghanistan Kamala Harris and our shameless politics MORE (R-Mich.) in an upcoming primary.

Haley, Scavino and Grisham were reportedly given warnings from the OSC.

An investigation from the special counsel in March found that White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayPsaki defends move to oust Trump appointees from military academy boards Defense & National Security: The post-airlift evacuation struggle Conway and Spicer fire back at White House over board resignation requests MORE violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions, once after using her official position to promote products from the president's daughter, Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpTrump Tower debt added to watch list as vacancies rise House panel tees up Trump executive privilege fight in Jan. 6 probe Mary Trump doesn't see her cousins connecting with GOP MORE.

Conway did not say whether she faced a punishment for the violations.